Gig Revew – The Stranglers, The Damned, SLF, Green Day, The Hives – BST Hyde Park – 010717

So, a little scene setting…

…An outdoor concert in Hyde Park in the summer with The Stranglers and The Damned on the same bill…

Count me in!

Tickets purchased.

But of course, that’s only half the story…

And talking of halves, my better one and her progeny were in as keen enthusiasts of headline act Green Day. Sweet!

Then a last-minute addition to the bill Stiff Little Fingers. Fab!

As the days drew us closer to the event, information started to trickle down about who would be playing on which stage at what time etc. A little further research revealed that we would not be able to take our own food or drinks, which for me put a little damper on things (being locked in as a captive audience and being at the mercy of the vendors of whatever over-priced (slop) refreshments may or may not be on offer). Then there were the emails from the promoters about upgrading our tickets to various levels of VIP tickets at extortionate amounts. Urgh! The shine began to wear off a little for me. (However, this was only to be temporary!) I began to feel a little less enthused at the prospect of being a captive participant at an event where the entertainment I was really looking forward to seeing were playing short sets, if I could get anywhere near them, while the rest of it had me less than enthused…

Flash forwards in time to the day itself:

After a Saturday morning of catching up with chores for me and removals and deliveries for DiBDaB, we made our way by train and tube to Bond Street and took a slow stroll to Hyde Park on a fine Summers Day. We ate our lunch on the grass then proceeded to enter through the peasant’s entrance.

So far so good, smiley happy people including the gate staff and security. More friendly faces all around as we made our way toward the front of the main stage in time for Stiff Little Fingers, only to be met by an obstruction in the form of a barrier, this far and no farther it seemed. The masses had settled for this while the people at the front in the fenced off area stretched their legs for a decent view. Then a chance conversation with a friendly marshal brought to our attention that anyone could get down to the front if they got there before all the passes were handed out. So, that’s what we did. Which afforded us a good vantage point from which to view SLF and The Damned. The day got a little better.

Stiff Little Fingers took to the main stage kicking off with the mighty Suspect Device and somehow managed to shoe-horn; Just Fade Away, At The Edge, Nobodies Heroes, Roots Radicals and Rockers, Barbed Wire Love, Strummerville, Tin Soldiers and Alternative Ulster – or thereabouts in to a half hour (methinks Jake Burns might know a thing or two about sugar tongs and time travel). So, the long and short of it was that they were bloody superb and warmed up the crowd – young and old alike – very well.

A short break and then Croydon’s finest took to the stage – The Damned in fine fettle; what with the Captain all upright and on his own two feet, the freshly shorn DV all vampiric, dapper and cool, Stu ready to inspect tickets in his BR garb, Pinch the picture of cool with slicked hair and shades and the descriptively defiant Monty brilliantly being Monty! A quick how do and down to business with a stonking set opener in the form of Love Song. A quick mention to the Young Ones and it’s Nasty great energy. Staying with the N’s next for Neat Neat Neat which was nice!

Then a sideways tangent as an extra mic is brought on stage and they’re joined by the trumpet player (Chris Coull?) for Grimly Fiendish, superb. And he stays on for fine rendition of Eloise, which has the crowd pleased.

Into overdrive for performance and crowd participation next as we’re treated to the slice of brilliance that is Ignite – oh whoah oh oh!…

Back on with the trumpet for Alone Again Or – Fab! (Another great choice as far as I’m concerned although that’s two covers in what is a short set but along with GF these songs do of course represent three hit singles, personally when I saw the trumpet was present I was really hoping for Twisted Nerve but that’s just being extra picky etc Etc EiTC)

The stage craft was immaculate as Captain played a blinder and insulted one and all in his usual jovial manner. Dave glided from side to side covering the whole stage while holding the crowd in the palm of his hand. Pinch and Stu were rock solid and cool. While Monty did what Monty does.

On which subject, New Rose next, stonkingly delivered by all concerned with Monty’s mighty moves impressing one and all!
Time for one more – Smash It Up. Smashing indeed!

And then they were gone with the big screens announcing that tickets for the 2018 UK Tour go on sale this Friday 7th July. Catch ‘em if you can folks!

Great to see them in this setting with a good crowd and all the trimmings – big screens etc…

We hung around for The Hives next. While I’d heard the name, they were somewhat of an unknown quantity for me. The stage was meticulously prepared and lines were checked. Then out they came in their impressive asymmetrical black and white outfits. Not really qualified to talk about their music which was very good – in a dual guitar driven rocky punky kind of way – but man what a show! Vocalist Per(?) was straight off the stage and into the crowd on the first number where he spent almost as much time as he did on stage (or so it seemed). The attitude and showmanship of the band was really in your face in a way that you couldn’t ignore, most effective! Crazy, dangerous, exciting and well worth catching live!

Then it was time for lunch and the anticipation of disappointment turned into pleasant surprise as we found there really were plenty of outlets to suit most dietary requirements.

Suitably fed and watered, we went and watched a bit of Rancid on the big screen which was worth a look before making our way to the other stage in time to catch the end of the set given by The Living End – very impressed – great musicians and super performers, shame we didn’t catch a little more.

We hung around this stage a little more and chatted to the like-minded souls gathered for the main event Then…

Waltzinblack signalled the arrival of The Stranglers, as we headed toward the front in time for the opening bars of 5 minutes super dooper!

And they kept the pace going with a perfect Grip before bringing it to steady cruise with Nice and Sleazy, menace O’ clock!

Relentless next and suddenly I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders…

…but then I looked up and saw that it was in fact Billy perched atop them enjoying an elevated view!

The crowd were the liveliest I’d seen all day for any act and this would hold true for the whole event!

But of course, then it was slow down – Golden Brown – flawlessly delivered with the crowd swaying along.

More menace in the shape of Peaches with worse places today being the United States of America.

The superb addition to this year’s set which is Bear Cage, long overdue until now but hopefully a stayer, as the crowd got right behind the chorus!

Then it was back up to speed for the home straight as they belted out a trio of classics and the crowd responded with gusto – Hanging Around, Something Better Change and Duchess.

All too soon it was bass bashing time which signalled the end, in the shape of closing number (a rousing) No More Heroes, one more mad mosh before our heroes exited stage left…

Over…

Or is it?

Well not quite!

It’d be rude of me not to say a thing or two about our hosts of the day – Green Day.

I made my way toward the front (and side-ish) and caught their full set and must say they were great!

It’s not a band I’m that familiar with and they weren’t high on my wish list of gigs to see. But credit where credit is due, they put on a cracking performance and had the audience in the palm of their hands. Taking Punk to the mainstream masses, in a kind of teeny bop Bay City Rollers for the modern age sort of way. I’m not intending to be negative or talk them down here, just making observations.

There were people of all ages from all walks of life really enjoying the show. And while that show was indubitably mainstream, it still came with a message, as front man Billie Joe Armstrong gave out plenty of sound bites in his interaction with the crowd – talking up the virtues of equality and freedom while putting down negative attitudes such as racism, sexism and homophobia. Putting down politics and even throwing in “F*ck Donald Trump”. Fair play that man!

Yes, it was poppy punk by numbers but it was catchy and brilliantly executed and the crowd participation was second to none as they brought people up on stage to sing and play guitar.

The bands energies did not waver for one second of the two hours or so of their set. Yes, it was mainstream but there was just a little bit of a feeling that they were rebelling from within, while delivering an energetic captivating set. Dare I say Superb?

Over…

Or is it?

Part Two…

So, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of being part of a captive audience at the mercy of mainstream commercialism but thankfully it really turned out fine. All the staff I encountered were friendly and enthusiastic. The food outlets were great and not overly expensive. The entertainment was top notch. The setting was great. The audio-visuals were superb in terms of the sound and video system.

Oh, and the weather was really good too!

Over…

Words and images: Matthew Elvis Brown.

Bonus:

The Damned 40th Anniversary – Guildford G-live 15th November 2016.

It’s been a right old week for the Sugar Tongs…

Whilst aiming for Finchley in 1976 to witness the Finchley Boys first meeting The Stranglers at The Torrington, we accidently got the date out by a week and ended up at a different gig the week before, still in The Torrington, Finchley Boys present too, not The Stranglers but The Damned…

…And we didn’t even get that right, somehow we ended up in Guildford (home of The Guildford Stranglers but not Guildford Lil) Forty years later to witness The Damned still giving it their all…

I chanced upon Guildford Lil and SiB so to celebrate we partook of some sustenance in India (Maloncho to be precise), which was nice…

Then, we navigated the drunken staircase paid our dues at the bar and took up a nice spot on the barrier for the latter half of a set by none other than The Members.

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Who sounded somewhat stonkingly brilliant in here tonight serving up a tight dish of well sculpted punky pop delight with numbers like, Chelsea Night Club, I ain’t Gonna be your Bitch No More and Sound of the Suburbs to name a few (hopefully correctly too etc Etc EiTC)…

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JC Carroll engaged all who were gathered with his charm and wit being as he was in the Zone! Tales of time machines and super moons had the tongs a twitching. Reports from SiB up in the balcony was that the sound tonight was a bit boomy but from where Lil and EiTC were stood it was spot on! Great Stuff.

In the seeming blink of an eye we were being treated to the wonderfully atmospheric Sanctum Sanctorum issuing from the PA heralding the imminent arrival of The Damned.

And arrive they did kicking off with a mighty Street of Dreams. Once more the sound was superb and no prisoners were taken as they kicked straight into Nasty, then fast forward a decade or so to what was probably the most recent song played this evening Amen.

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There was a fantastic atmosphere on stage with the lighting and back drop and the energy of the band was high, with Dave Vanian covering all corners of the stage like some manic hovering/prowling vampire.

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The brilliant Disco Man next then Eloise before they headed into Strawberries territory, where we were treated to the sublime Under The Floor Again backed up with a stonking ignite and the welcome surprise of Life Goes On.

Back in time to the Black Album for Wait For The Blackout and History Of The World…

Back further MGE – Love Song, Antipope, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Plan 9 Channel 7 and the traditional set closer Smash It Up.

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Then it was all over etc Etc EiTC…

But…

In true pantomime style – Oh No It Wasn’t!!!

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A quick breather and they were back to 76/77 to treat us to the whole of their debut Album the brilliant Damned Damned Damned. Captain put a shout of gratitude out for absent friends as he introduced it as Brian James’s masterpiece and mentioned Rat Scabies in his words “what a fucking drummer!”

And it was brilliant as you would expect from this line-up.

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All too soon it was all I Feel Alright and goodnight…

But still they came back for more and treated us to a perfect nightcap in the shape of the majestic Curtain Call! Perfect!

Earlier this year in May I was stunned into silence at the brilliance of The Damned as they took The Royal Albert Hall by storm – no review was forthcoming but know this, for EiTC it was right up there as one of the greatest gigs ever and tonight was pretty Damned good too…

Over…

Words, Photos and Videos: Matthew Elvis Brown

Bonus:

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Gig review – The Damned – The Featherz – The Vanguards – O2 Islington and On A Train 20-12-15.

Gig Review(s) – The Damned/The Featherz – O2 Islington and The Vanguards – On A Train – 20-12-15

Clarity…

After a brief sojourn in India with SiB, Kali and Arl, Zob and Bowie, Dibdab and EiTC, we moved on toward the bright open spaces of Angel, where we were joined by Lefty.

And onward, here tonight as we were, for a seasonal do – courtesy of our old Muckers and Croydon’s finest – The Damned.

Arriving at the venue for this evening’s celebrations, the fab O2 in Islington, we were hastily ushered inside past the waiting crowd – due to the fact that two of our number held in their possession the sacred device of queue jumping.

Inside we set up camp at the bar by the side of the stage where soon our numbers were swelled by Mr and Mrs Bloggs, Domestos, Pidge and Streatham Mick among others.

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Just then our attention was drawn by an irresistible siren call, in the shape of the excellent support act – The Featherz. Like a breath of fresh air from the 1970’s this Punky Glam trio delivered a well-crafted blend of original material (punctuated by two well-chosen covers) with attitude and style.

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Guitarist/Vocalist Danie has the air of A Lass Insane about her appearance and performance wise, demonstrating some impressive chops on the guitar while simultaneously delivering a very strong vocal line (with hint or two of the late great Poly Styrene about her voice). Bassist/Vocalist Alice compliments Danie perfectly with solid playing/singing/harmonies coupled with her almost acrobatic stage presence – dropping back into a most impressive back arch mid-song while wielding/playing a bass guitar and not skipping a beat. These two front Women complement each other perfectly sparking off each other whilst anchored by the solid beats of drummer Dazzle.

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When was the last time you had sex? No I’m not asking you… That’s a title from their original material that sticks in one’s mind for some strange reason, along with two strong covers in the shape of 20th Century Boy and Don’t Dictate! Catch them live soon!

Then…

…before we knew what was going on – it was – Croydon Calling…

The Damned….

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After some initial tech problems with the guitar…

Clarity…

The sound was crystal clear in the O2 tonight a decent sized venue for getting up close and personal while affording a good view from all angles. The clarity really can’t be underplayed – as every element was audible – particularly the keyboards, bass and bv/harmonies, which often times can get lost/overwhelmed in some of the more cavernous venues (such as the Roundhouse for example) etc Etc EiTC…

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The capacity crowd were right behind the band from the off – Moshing/Pogoing, Head-banging, Howling/Singing along and hanging on every note.

Dave’s performance was electric tonight, he had the whole stage covered, looking dapper in his 3-piece (and subsequent shedding of layers) while his green up-light ensured some spooky atmosphere, especially when coupled with the fiery/hellish – yellow/orange/red stage-lighting. His voice was silky smooth throughout and he engaged and teased audience and band members alike. Awesome!

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The Captain’s years spent on the South Coast are really beginning to show – bedecked as he was tonight in a Sailors uniform. He shrugged off the tech/tuning problems with his kit, righted his vessel, delivered some stonking guitar work and crooned like a good ‘un. Like Dave he was darting all over the place from one side of the stage to the other and also baiting the crowd for good measure in his own peculiar way.

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Monty appeared focussed on his work tonight and provided top notch melodic musing throughout, as well as coming centre stage and moshing madly at one point. Stu’s bass work was faultless and along with Pinch’s drums provided the perfect foundation for a Damned good shindig!

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The set was superb tonight! (Although with this bands back catalogue how can it fail to be?) Kicking off with an awesome Wait For The Blackout they then swerved into a fab Fan Club before popping into the wonderful History of The World. Grimly fiendish next replete with Kazoo Trumpet solo from DV (wasn’t this later in the set on Alone Again Or??? etc Etc EiTC…), brilliant! The perma-awesome Stranger on The Town was introduced by Captain with a bit of history about not being welcome at hotels and the like in the early days.

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Then it was a trio from MGE in the shape of Love Song, Second Time Around and Just Can’t Be Happy Today. Dave paid homage to his favourite horror actor Vincent Price as he introduced a spine tingling 13th Floor. Then the pace was upped again for the excellent Ignite. No loss of momentum as they delivered a mighty Eloise (always a real treasure live).

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A mention for 60’s garage bands specifically Arthur Lee and Love as they struck up into Alone Again Or. A shout to Eddie Cochran’s influence came from the Captain as he introduced the eternal highlight of Neat Neat Neat, at the end of which Dave disappeared off stage. Dave’s exit saw Santa’s arrival just in time for the seasonal favourite – There Ain’t No Sanity Clause, which rounded out the main set nicely.

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Encore time and EiTC is one happy bunny as they do the business with the charming Under The Floor Again. Then it is Dave’s audience participation time as he gets one willing chap from the audience to utter the immortal introduction to New Rose ‘Is she really going out with him?

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Keeping up the pace with Nasty before throwing in their ‘other’ Christmas song…

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The Turkey song sees them joined onstage by a chap known as Turkey (the inspiration for the song). The legendary Charlie Harper joins in holding up a poster of Monty’s artwork of a Turkey. They are then joined by the lovely Gaye Advert who was holding up Monty’s Rhino poster, in time for the second verse. Brilliantly surreal!

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Before we knew it, it was time to Smash It Up and then, it was… Over…

Or was it…

Well no it wasn’t, as the Captain continued in the party spirit with an acapella rendition of Happy Talk concluding in a scatological scoobie doobie kind of way.

Then it was over…

Or was it…

Outside at the Merch Stall we encountered the delightful Greet and then rubbed shoulders with The Captain himself, who along with Pidge, used all his will power to not talk about footie and instead chatted about Groundhogs, guitars and stuff. Perfect!

Over…

…Or was it?

Clarity…

Croydon Calling 2.0.

As we wound or way home Dibdab and me found ourselves riding that midnight train…

Well okay, it was actually the 11.47 to Caterham but close enough! We boarded carriage number four where we were drawn as a moth to the flame by some damn fine bluegrass picking. There we found ourselves taking a prime spot next to Jack Baker and Chris Lord (Mandolin and Banjo respectively) Croydon’s finest Bluegrass band – The Vanguards.

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We were with them just three short stops but they treated us to Old Ebenezer Scrooge, Pike County Breakdown and Flint Hill Special. Brilliant! Must catch the full band soon!

Over… (Really!)

Words: EiTC

Photos: EiTC and Dibdab

Bonus Damned:

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Bonus Featherz:

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Bonus Vanguards:

Bonus Crowd:

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Bonus Pre and Post Gig:

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rhino pidge pidcap elvcap

Gig Review – The Damned – London – Roundhouse – 6th June 2015.

Gig Review – The Damned – London – Roundhouse – 6th June 2015.

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After a rendezvous in Euston with the Human Mic Stand (HMS), we were joined before not too long by Guildford Lil. Enjoying the afternoon sunshine in Euston Square, we came to pondering as to the whereabouts of Mr and Mrs Silverback. A quick consultation with the tricorder revealed that they had in fact been standing 50 yards due west of us the whole time (at the local watering hole of course).

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Eventually we found ourselves in India with Ravi Shankar, where sustenance was provided, giving us the strength to make the arduous journey to Camden Town in order to rescue Antro and Pidge from The End of The World.

Armageddon narrowly avoided, we ambled along Camden High Street up to Chalk Farm where we found a Kate in Black. From there we ventured inside an old railway engine turning shed for a promising evening’s entertainment…

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Time once more played its tricks, for, as we arrived, opening act Rubella Ballet were drawing to a fine sounding conclusion, shame we missed them. Having not seen them since the Centro Iberico days, was rather hoping to catch their set…

The family were well represented tonight as evidenced by the plentiful MiB tees on display. We met up with FdN, then after a quick chat with Mr and Mrs Rockula, we sought refreshment at the bar. From whence we made our way toward the front, (where we encountered Ravenette) in time to take in the soothing dulcet tones of Johnny Moped!

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JM and band went on to blast through the set in his/their own inimitable manner. Culminating in the highlight of Hard Loving Man. It was interesting to note the dizzying height of the drummer Dave Berk’s cymbals and said percussionists passing resemblance to (a somewhat long-armed) Rat Scabies, maybe it was a trick of the light.

As the hour drew nearer the crowd began to swell with a mix of good folk from all walks and of all ages (family outings for many passing the baton to younger generations). And then…

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…The Damned Express Locomotive entered the shed for a quick greasing/oiling and refit!

An intoxicating melodic madness began to issue from the region of Monty Oxymoron who eventually morphed his meandering musical musings into Melody Lee (try saying that a few sheets to the wind!). Suddenly he was joined by his cohorts as they blasted into song.

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The captain welcomed us in his (non) native German for the intro to Love Song, along the lines of – Damen und Herren How do? Moving swiftly through a selection from MGE including 2nd Time Around, Just can’t be Happy and Plan 9.

And they were puffing along nicely now as Pinch and Stu kept the wheels firmly on the track while Captain and Monty shovelled mountains of musical coal upon the furnace and Driver Dave steered everything masterfully along, with his fine whiskers giving him a somewhat distinguished air (even more so than usual).

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The set tonight was initially divided up by album and it was the turn of The Black Album next. The opening numbers in track order; Blackout, Lively Arts and Silly Kids Games were backed up with History and a rather spiffing 13th Floor Vendetta.

Then the Strawberries era was represented by the epics Ignite and Stranger on The Town.

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From here on in the set was comprised of a selection. Kicking off with some fine guitar picking from Mr Sensible on an awesome Alone Again Or.

A stonking Eloise preceded Antipope, which in turn led to the first ever punk rock single in the form of New Rose. And the main set was rounded out with the superb Neat Neat Neat (please please please reinstate the Break on Through section at some point!)…

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Encore time as they kicked off with a blistering Nasty in dedication of Rik Mayall. Then Dx3 got further representation in the form of Fan Club and Feel Alright.

And before we knew it Smash It Up signalled the servicing was complete and saw us turned around and sent back out into the night from where we came.

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The Damned were on top form and sounding great. At times the keys and bass got lost a little but I think that’s a general problem with both the acoustics of The Roundhouse and standing near Mr Sensible’s side of the stage. At one point Dave asked said guitarist to turn it down which he duly and correctly obliged. In other highlights; Monty came out from behind the keys for a boogie centre stage much to the crowds delight, Pinch called Captain over to prompt him to make an announcement pertaining to a certain important 40th anniversary that would be taking place in 2016 and went on to inform us that they will be playing at The Royal Albert Hall in a 3 hour extravaganza in celebration (order your tickets early folks, they’re selling fast!) and Captain again displayed his advanced yogic technique of guitarasana, levitating his instrument several inches above his head. Of course there were the usual unimaginative suspects whose failed attempt to start a SAW chant were met with Dave’s groaned “They’re here” and Mr S’s mumbled STFU which surprisingly they mostly did (TFFT!).

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Once again a top notch and tight performance from a superb band that after 40 odd years on the go and somewhat like a fine wine, just seem to get better with age.

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Over…

Words: EiTC.
Photos: Courtesy of Ms Teri and Mr E.

AFEAO!

Review – The Damned, Theatre of Hate, Ruts DC – London, Roundhouse

Friday 13th December 2013.

So after our last adventure in time and space with the sojourn at Leamington Spa, we once more put the time machine in mothballs. After all, how on earth were we going to top that?

This of course didn’t turn out to be too much of a quandary… The answer was staring us in the face, all along! The moon was growing larger. Comets were fading in the brilliance of the sun. The numbers began to add up. After Wednesday, soon Friday must follow… After 11 and 12 you will find the answer… Thirteen!

All of which led us to the conclusion that, to top that, you must do it all again, only better!

So we boarded the slivery silvery earth worm and headed for Chalk Farm.

Sibling in Black and myself sought refuge on the good ship Enterprise, with its fine Wenches serving an assortment of ales to the thirsty black clad masses! We momentarily ventured to the Middle East for refreshment of another kind. Before heading into the heart of the Citadel…

Do not be afraid!

Do not be afraid of The Damned…

The Damned are not afraid!

Not afraid of putting on a top show, with two support acts of the highest quality. And then some…

Ruts DC took the stage at a very early 7.20 pm on this Friday evening. And it was nice to see that the audience had filled out very quickly to catch them. Kicking off with Mighty Soldier, they sounded great and super tight. The drums were up front and the bass sounded great (although it was a little lost in the chasm that is the Roundhouse). Guitars and vocals were both clear and cut through the mix nicely. Again they gave us a perfect mix of their patented blend of Punkified Reggae or Reggaefied Punk! Both Old and new material sat side by side really well. The crowd really responded positively, and classics like Staring At The Rude Boys and Babylon’s Burning took us all by storm. A nice surprise in tonight’s set was the inclusion of Ruts classic Society. Let’s hope this band is back out on tour very soon.

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Next up were Theatre of Hate. I didn’t know what to expect. But having collected their early singles and first album in my youth, I was pleasantly surprised to hear these songs were fairly broadly covered in the set. The band seemed to be really into it and put on a great show. Enjoying the moment, they came across well. The crowd seemed to pick up on that. And a large portion of the crowd were singing along and dancing. Kirk Brandon seemed fairly ageless up on the stage, instantly recognizable as the strange punky guy that used to haunt Stanwell Moor decades ago. He seems to have an inherent awkwardness about him mixed with a tough guy stance, an odd combination, all of which adds to his uniqueness and stage presence. And then, when he opens his mouth to sing… What a voice. Great stuff, he’s still got it in abundance! Really powerful voice. Great set. Again the bass got a little lost at times but that does seem to be a flaw of the venue.

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Before we knew it we were on to the main event. The Damned!

Kicking off with Sanctum Sanctorum, the stage was awash with an eerie lighting that felt like some kind of psychedelic electric blue fog. Which was most apt, as Dave Vanian appeared like some dapper Dickensian vampire in his Frock coat and Top Hat. The atmosphere was ablaze.

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I’m pleased to report that the sound was crisp and clear, with all instruments audible, it was a great mix and not too loud.

Don’t Cry Wolf was next and was quite simply stonking! We were again treated to the opening three songs from the triumvirate of their classic albums; Machine Gun Etiquette, Black Album and Strawberries. There were less tracks from Damned x 3 tonight but instead we were treated to the delightful Plan 9 Channel 7, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Antipope and Jet Boy Jet Girl.

The band were on fire tonight… Tighter than a tight thing! The crowd were rammed in and the whole place seemed to be singing along (myself included) verbatim. Amazing! The chemistry between Messrs Vanian and Sensible was working like a well-oiled machine tonight. Mr Vanian in particular had the whole stage covered, moving effortlessly from side to side and engaging his fellow band mates and audience alike he put on a brilliant show. Also, the Captain’s yoga classes seem to be paying off as he has now mastered the ability to levitate the guitar just above his head with no strings attached (well, clearly there were strings attached to the guitar in the traditional sense… Oh you know what I mean!) And no hands! The classics were there of course… New Rose, Love Song, Neat x3 (I was willing Monty to break into Break on Through during this one but alas it was not to be!). All the while Pinch and Stu laid down a firm foundation for all of this to take place.

All too soon, we were at the encores but Dave had one more little Christmas present to conjure from his Top Hat… For the encore we were given the masterpiece Curtain Call! Exquisite! During the atmospheric opening, time and reality began to shift, as I felt myself drawn ever closer to the ethereal… I could swear it was almost as if Mr Vanian was standing right in front of me offering me a firm hand shake from his gloved hand before drifting back on stage to tend to the vocal matters! Then Smash it up and then they were gone. Back out into the night from whence they came….

Or was it all some kind of dream? Some silky satin nightmare of pleasure and pain….

Come back soon… Don’t leave us drifting here too long!

Friday the Thirteenth…

Lucky for some!

Gig review – The Damned and Ruts DC – Leamington Assembly – 30th November 2013.

The Damned and Ruts DC – Leamington Assembly – 30th November 2013.

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We have witnessed much activity in the time streams this weekend. The time machine seemed to be suffering from a problem with its navigation unit which was later traced to a faulty hinge on the sugar tongs. We set the dial for 1979 but after experiencing interference at the M40/Junction 16 triangle (believed to be linked with the mysterious disappearances of many a time traveller succumbing to the call of Space Sirens!), we eventually landed in Royal Leamington Spa. In what appeared to be yet another fracture in the space time continuum.

We found ourselves in a kind of disjointed future-past-present! Fluctuating between 2013 and 34 years earlier in 1979!

First we took refuge at the hostelry known as the Jug and Jester where we encountered many fellow time travellers and the tribe of the damned mingled with the tribe in black in anticipation of what was to follow.

My sibling in black and I journeyed to India, where we found sustenance and then we re-joined the tribes before reassembling in the 1920s at The Assembly.

On arrival, we made our way to the barrier that protected us from the spectacle we were about to behold.

Ruts DC came on stage at 7.40 and soothed us with their patented brand of Cool Reggae inspired Punk.

Kicking off with ‘Mighty Soldier’, our ears were caressed and our limbs were forced out of their atrophied state by the rock-solid rhythm section of (original Ruts) Dave Ruffy and Segs. In combination with the tasteful guitar work from Leigh Heggarty and sweet tones of singer percussionist Molara, we were treated to a musical performance of the highest calibre.

Particularly impressive were both the skill of Segs, in his ability to sing while simultaneously tackling some tricky bass parts. And that of Dave Ruffy who played brilliantly, perfectly recreating his energetic and complex Ruts drum patterns in an effortless manner without appearing to break a sweat!

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In an impromptu change to the set they played the brilliant “Love in Vain” much to the crowds delight.  Throughout the set the audience was gradually growing and the response was very positive.

Captain Sensible was spotted watching the last few numbers from the side-lines as they finished with a strong flurry of Ruts classics – “Staring at The Rude Boys”, “West One Shine on Me”, “Babylon’s Burning” and “In a Rut”. Top Stuff!

After a fashion, and before we knew what hit us, The Damned threw a complete curve ball by opening their set with the darkly atmospheric “Sanctum Sanctorum” from 1985’s Phantasmagoria, stunning! Then they went straight into the rockers with another curve ball “Don’t Cry Wolf”, from the often overlooked Music for Pleasure, tonight it is sounding better than ever. 

Given they have such a vast back catalogue to draw from, The Damned never fail to (pleasantly) surprise with their choice of set list material. And tonight is no exception, they are on top form! Inspiring alliterations all over the shop what with Vanian’s Velvet Voice and Captain’s Crucial Chops (nearly…), Pinch’s pounding percussion, Monty’s Masterful meanderings and Stu’s Stonking Stringwork!

They throw in another number from the MFP era “Sick of being Sick”. From The Black Album we got “Lively Arts” flawlessly seguing into “Silly Kids Games”. There were a few from Strawberries – “Ignite”, “Generals”, and “Stranger on The Town”.  From Phantasmagoria we were also given “8th Day”. The modern era was skimmed over tonight, with the only example being “Song.com” from the brilliant Grave Disorder. From MGE we got “2nd Time Around”. And more!

The classics were there of course, “Smash it up”, “Neat Neat Neat”, “Love Song” and “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”! Another bonus was the revival of “Ballroom Blitz” During the encore. All executed deftly with subtle twists, nuances and stagecraft in abundance, plus the odd Dalek thrown in for good measure…

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…Back to temporal matters – We are so lucky to have this band in their fifth decade of existence consistently delivering the goods. A few of us tonight were celebrating the 34th anniversary of first seeing the Damned in 1979 on the MGE tour at the Rainbow Theatre in London. All of which beggars the question “Where does it all go?”

If you get a chance I strongly urge that you catch this brilliant pairing of bands in a theatre near you soon!

Must dash, the new hinge has been installed and we’re off back to 2013….

P.S. thanks to Mr Final for proof reading 🙂